I've been working with 960 layout for years – but was wondering if there are other grid systems that are strongly supported by the design and development community and also have blank or starter pages to work with.
I'd say Twitter Bootstrap is probably one of the favorites.
It has a nice grid system that utilizes 12 columns, making for a 940px wide container without responsive features enabled. With the responsive CSS file added, the grid adapts to be 724px and 1170px wide depending on your viewport. Below 767px viewports, the columns become fluid and stack vertically:
It also allows for column offset and nesting.
See this post for more frameworks: https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/16410/7520
Also check out this site for many options. Personally I use a customized version of Base. It is very light weight and doesn't have all the 'bells and whistles' if you're someone who likes the DIY option.